There is no shortage of people who are forecasting the demise of some colleges and universities over the next few years. For example, in a blog article I wrote earlier this year, I reviewed The College Stress Test, a book written by Bob Zemsky, Susan Shaman, and Susan Campbell Baldridge. Based on their pre-COVID-19 analysis of institutional enrollment and financial data submitted to the Department of Education’s Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS), they predicted that 10 percent of all colleges and universities are in danger of closing over the next few years.
When the first college campuses in the state of Washington closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought the actions to be reasonable and short term because of the proximity to Seattle, the early coronavirus hotspot in the U.S. As more college campuses closed for the remainder of the spring semester and athletic teams’ seasons were cancelled, I thought the actions to be reasonable. Those measures were designed to keep a socially active age group from spreading the coronavirus on campus and in their college towns and cities.
The month of March was not a good month for higher education. With the national, state, and local social distancing recommendations, college leaders recognized that college campuses had to be closed. Within two weeks, almost all of our colleges and universities transitioned to online classes with students attending classes remotely from home, their off-campus apartments, or in a few cases, from their dormitories.
During the coronavirus outbreak, many colleges and universities have transitioned from traditional classroom environments to teaching primarily online. In this podcast, Dr. Bjorn Mercer talks with American Public University System President Dr. Wally Boston about the impact of coronavirus on higher education.